I'd like to take a few moments this evening to share my memories and photos of Occupy St. Louis as it appeared and functioned in October of last year.
This isn't a representative image of every Occupy camp that existed then, and it isn't meant to be.
I bring to you what I experienced and how I came to be proud to stand with the Occupy movement for a brief time. It's almost impossible to explain to
people now, how not every camp was a combat zone. Not every Occupy group, led by fighters and how not every Occupier is a Black Flag Anarchist or a
Communist. St. Louis had those types there, to be sure. I met both and more. I can honestly say I met some of the best people I've known as well as
some of the worst.
Let me open with my personal favorite and what we had to enjoy as a view, every evening from our Welcome Table and entrance to camp. (All the people
are down at the Kitchen, which was serving dinner in the lower left)
Next, I took some time to create a couple maps, to show better just where we were there and how the physical layout existed in the fall. As one can
see, the location couldn't possibly have been better (Or worse, by the city's thinking) for the timing.
And, close up to Kiener Plaza. Home of Occupy STL for Fall of 2011.
At this point, I'd like to take just a moment and explain a little about the layout above. The red line represents the unofficial line we claimed as
our own area of responsibility. It was never looked upon as a border against outsiders, as some seemed to view this in other cities. Rather, it set
the limits out to where Safety patrolled and took active roles in a problem, where trash and such was kept spotless (We worked the whole overall area,
but focus was strongest in the box) and where we considered it to be a police issue and not ours, when non-Occupy people started trouble, unrelated to
The tents numbered around a dozen when most of these were taken. By the time I left, they numbered 3 times that, easily and were growing. What existed
in the Plaza were the common areas for Kitchen, Media, Medical, Library and Storage tents. The outer ring at street level had the living areas.
The "C" area, or protest positions, were our 24/7 Outreach area. It wasn't quite 24hrs, but it was close for the people who chose to stand on that
corner no matter what else was going on. I admired them most because I rarely saw them anywhere else. Rarely ever in camp itself and even the Kitchen
usually sent things up to them rather than their leaving their vigil to come down. It consisted of nothing more confrontational than LARGE signs held,
and always changing, for all the traffic to see. As one can see, the location was a traffic dream.
The main fountain shown in the Satellite shots was not running while we had the Plaza. Weather ...and fear of damage is what I'd guess were the
factors. The fountain just to the East of our bordered area was running and in Red for the World Series. Series parties and events were on that
Here is a view from the parking structure on the North East corner of our humble home. It captures a slow moment and most of the camp was out on an
action, as I recall.
(The area visible in the top extreme of the shot shows some of the living areas at street level)
The one was taken just prior to a "neighborhood" expansion and what would come to form a major area of Tent City. In a short time, the grass there was
all but covered and tents to a few feet of the Plaza tiles. It was kept as clean as you see it there, however. Trash and neglect was something the
camp simply didn't allow to build.
Bathroom facilities were supplied in part by local labor union support and in part by funding from within the camp itself. I wasn't the only one that
put some measurable sums into camp and I never did learn who signed for 2 of the 3. Servicing was likewise handled internally for cost and came as
needed. It was never a problem.
Of course, not everyone liked Occupy. Even our little corner of it. Nature just had to make her own protest a couple times....
I just labeled
these photos "Drown-Rat" 1-3. I think it fit and the mood matched.
Much has also been made over the months about Occupy being hostile or even violent to people who would come and protest or seek debate right in the
middle of camp. Well, I saw plenty of conflict......on Livestream. I didn't see any, even once, inside our camp. Here is a typical scene for an
The gentleman in white and fiddling with his equipment was over from an Illinois University with a group to stage confrontation within the camp. I'm
not guessing on that as I happened to be half in/half out of my Blazer parked on the street (just beyond the tents, in this scene) when he arrived. He
stood up there and casually spoke to his assistant about what they were looking to capture and what sort of answers they needed to get for their
piece. Apparently, being busy in a vehicle I clearly owned caused them to think I wasn't Occupy. lol... Ever wanted to be a fly on the wall? It was
interesting to hear.
Despite that and after letting the rest of Safety and camp people know what I was audience to, the photo above is about how the day went. The Black
gentlemen in the foreground was another person who came to see what we were about and debate if memory serves. It was welcomed, and that was a source
of constant surprise as expressed by many who would come. They expected...?? Well, I'm not sure what. They found folks happy to debate whatever may be
on their minds though, and entirely civil.
Last, but surely not least.....We were there to protest and, if forced, fight. No one in that camp was there under delusions of safety. However, all
work and no play makes Occupiers downright ugly. We had a beautiful camp!
The folks gather and settle in for a night's entertainment
Some nights we had a band playing from the community. One particularly bad (Tense..for Safety reasons) night was made much better by a VERY talented
group who volunteered for that evening as Fire Eaters. Anyone who've seen that done, know how impressive it is in a formal theater. It was incredible
to see that kind of talent right in camp for us and the public to come and enjoy.
edit on 13-5-2012 by Wrabbit2000 because: Corrected Image Link